The brand New Year usually takes off to a very slow start in Portugal because, after the intense partying season, everyone is exhausted. Therefore, the first of January is officially a public holiday, as the festive season fatigue adds on to the holiday fatigue, because most of us have been holidaying from roughly the 20th of December onwards, you see.
However, if one researches it, the New Year’s Day was initially observed on the Ides of March in the old Roman calendar, but later, two Roman consuls fixed it for the 1st of January in the year 153 BC. The month was called Janus after the Roman God of doors and gates, who had two faces, one facing forward and the other looking back.
During the Middle Ages, a number of different Christian feast dates were used to mark the New Year and it wasn’t until 1582 that the Roman Catholic Church officially adopted 1st of January as the New Year. It is a national holiday in all the countries that follow the Gregorian calendar, with the exception of Israel.
Like I said earlier, the Portuguese also get the day off, which is fair I guess, because we need an additional break to recover from the hectic break.
After the requisite time off, when we reluctantly go back to work, we start making our New Year’s Resolution, all over again. As in the past, we begin with good intentions and a renewed enthusiasm, but a few months down the line, it all fizzles out as we fail to honour the promises we make to ourselves.
So, what can be done? Setting minor, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming target in January, can help us reach whatever it is we strive for. It is important to remember that it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle switch is important and work towards it.
In other words, one must start small by making resolutions that we think we can keep. If, for example, your aim is to exercise more frequently, schedule three or four days a week at the gym rather than seven. While it may seem like a slow beginning, these minor changes make it easier to stick to your new habits and increase the likelihood of long-term success.
The Dalai Lama once observed that every man is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. “He lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived,” he said.
Right! That is why I decided to put my New Year’s Resolution – of living each day as if it were my last – into practice on the night of the first of January itself! And so, I was snuggled warmly in front of the fireplace with my favourite food and drink when my spouse walked in.
“You are having mulled wine?” my husband asked rhetorically.
I quickly swallowed a mouthful from my glass.
“And pastel de nata as well”, he continued.
I nodded in agreement.
“It is the midnight hour!” he exclaimed.
“The Dalai Lama”, I explained.
“What about him?” said my husband.
“He said present the enjoyment”, I hiccupped.
My husband shook his head.
“I mean enjoy the present”, I told his retreating back.
Nickunj Malik’s journalistic career began when she walked into the office of Khaleej Times newspaper in Dubai thirty-one years ago and got the job. Since then, her articles have appeared in various newspapers all over the world. She now resides in Portugal and is married to a banker who loves numbers more than words.